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Bathroom electrical fixtures - Some working and some not. Please help

Bathroom electrical fixtures - Some working and some not. Please help

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  #1  
Old 03-06-17, 12:50 AM
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Bathroom electrical fixtures - Some working and some not. Please help

Disclaimer - First time home-owner. Apologies if I sound stupid.

Issue:
This morning when I switched on the bathroom lights and exhaust fan, realized they are not working.

Bathroom has
1. 4 plug sockets (none operated by a switch, all working even now)
2. 2 switches (both not working)
(1 switch goes to the lights on top of the mirror)
(1 switch goes to a exhaust fan-light combo over the shower tub)

Analysis (so far)
1. Breaker not tripped
Switched off and switched on the breaker. The problem persists

2. I think there are 3 possible areas of concern
(1) From breaker to the switchboard (less likley as the plug points are still working)
(2) Switches
(Most likley cause, not sure)
(3) From switch to the fixtures
(Could be but not sure)

Request for help:
I am not sure about what next steps are. Would greatly appreciate your expertise.

Few options I have considered
- Replace the switch
- Buy a multi-meter and check incoming and outgoing supply (have never done this, so could use some advise on what to use and how)

 
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  #2  
Old 03-06-17, 04:14 AM
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Welcome to the forums! I would remove the power from the lights/receptacle and pull the receptacle/switches from the box. Often wires are back stabbed into the switches and receptacles which cause poor connection and even pull outs. If that is your case, remove the wires from the stab backs and place them on the associated screws. If the receptacle is GFCI (which it should be) the wires are secured under a plate with the screw, so they are usually OK. I believe you have a problem with the first switch power. Let us know what you find out.
 
  #3  
Old 03-06-17, 05:09 AM
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One other thing you may want to check really quick. If you have another bathroom in the house see if there is a tripped GFCI in there. Also be sure no other GFCIs tripped in the house.
 
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Old 03-06-17, 05:23 AM
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If you have a garage look there also. Have found GFCI almost anyplace would look around all over. Even outside outlets. Where unusual for bathroom GFCI to located outside but have found strange things.
 
  #5  
Old 03-06-17, 10:52 PM
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Thank you so much for the replies. Greatly appreciate your help.

I used GFCI circuit tester and verified all the GFCIs in the house. Did not find any faults. None of them have tripped.

Will open up the receptacle box tomorrow and keep you posted.
 
  #6  
Old 03-06-17, 11:23 PM
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verified all the GFCIs in the house
But there are sometimes ones behind furniture are boxes that haven't been moved in years the you don't remember. Not sure what did you mean by "verified all the GFCIs in the house"?
 
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Old 03-07-17, 06:56 AM
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Lighting is typically not gfi protected . I suspect a loose or failed connection .
 
  #8  
Old 03-07-17, 11:08 AM
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Thank you for the notes.

We have a fairly empty house as we moved in recently (like 4 weeks ago). So, I found GFCI outlets in the bathroom and kitchen.

Used a GFCI tester to look for any faults. (Sorry, verified might have been the wrong term on the previous post)
(GFCI tester = Radioshack RSK155827 Ac-outlet Analyzer Gfci Tester)

Will open up the GFCI and the switch box to look for any loose or open connections.
 
  #9  
Old 03-07-17, 01:10 PM
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Ac-outlet Analyzer Gfci Tester
Testers like that are sometimes fooled. Good for a quick check but shouldn't be relied on. Better is an analog (not digital) multimeter. The "Tester" portion only refers to its ability to trip a GFCI but that only works if the ground is good.
So, I found GFCI outlets in the bathroom and kitchen.
There could be some in the garage and outside.
 
  #10  
Old 03-08-17, 04:36 AM
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Hello Wayne, You can check and solve your problem via [advertising link removed]. I think Digital Multimeter will fixed your problem. Thanks
 

Last edited by ray2047; 03-08-17 at 01:27 PM.
  #11  
Old 03-08-17, 01:27 PM
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Analog multimeters are better because digital multimeters can give misleading readings.
 
  #12  
Old 04-22-17, 08:56 PM
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Update

Hello,

I used a contact-less voltage detector.

(With the breaker on)
> No voltage detected at the wires connecting to the switches.
> Voltage detected at the breaker outlet
> Voltage detected at the plug sockets (in the same bathroom)

This seems like a wiring issue to the switches. Would this be a correct assessment ?
 
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Old 04-22-17, 09:08 PM
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A tester like that will only show if you have 120v. It won't tell you anything about the status of the neutral. That's where the analog meter with probes comes in handy.

You said the receptacles were working so finding power there makes sense.
Voltage detected at the circuit breaker not breaker outlet..... also good.

No power at the switches.

If there is no 120v hot to the switches..... we need to find out where it comes from.
Are/were the switches on the same circuit as the receptacles ?
If not.... are they on their own dedicated circuit ?
 
  #14  
Old 04-22-17, 09:46 PM
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@pjmax

(Heading out to Home Depot to get the analog meter)

Answers to the below questions:

If there is no 120v hot to the switches..... we need to find out where it comes from.
Are/were the switches on the same circuit as the receptacles ?
If not.... are they on their own dedicated circuit ?

My understanding - They are on the same breaker. It could have branched out from there on. Not sure how to find that out.
 
  #15  
Old 04-22-17, 10:10 PM
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Do this first....

Check in your switch box. Let is know what you have there for cabling. Based on what you have there will help to determine if the power comes into there or into the lights and then to there.

We'll need to know how many two wire and three wire cables you see. Don't disconnect the switches. Ground wires in the cable don't count.


If they are on the same circuit..... make a list of everything on that circuit. Look at each location. Picture how the cabling could be done.If the power does go to the switches.... it will usually come from the closest location on the same circuit.
 
  #16  
Old 05-14-17, 11:31 PM
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Thank you everyone. I was able to resolve the issue.

While I was trying to look for the switch box with a cable detector, I chanced upon a GFCI behind the bathroom closet. I noticed it had tripped, and was able to reset it. The fixtures were back up and running once I did that.

Greatly appreciate all the awesome help I received from this forum.
 
  #17  
Old 05-15-17, 05:02 AM
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Thanks for coming back and giving us the up date. Glad it was an easy fix. You would not believe any many times something like this can be resolved just by resetting a GFCI receptacle. Many times home owners that have lived in their house for years have the same problem. A tripped GFCI and they finally find one tripped in a spot that they did not even know that one was there. Behind a box in the corner in the basement or garage etc.
 
  #18  
Old 05-15-17, 05:41 AM
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Totally cool that you found it. A GFI isn't required for the lighting in the bathroom so you may be able to replace that, if it doesn't protect any other application that would require GFI protection. Naturally the outlets in the bathroom do need to be GFI protected.
 
  #19  
Old 05-15-17, 06:09 AM
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Jefferson, lighting is an outlet by code definition . You meant to say receptacle .
 
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Old 05-15-17, 06:39 AM
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Actually, the NEC code refers to receptacles as "receptacles", "outlets" and "receptacle outlets". It is also true that the lights are "outlets". I thought I had differentiated clearly that the GFI wasn't required if it only supplied the lighting ...
 
  #21  
Old 05-15-17, 05:17 PM
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Naturally the outlets in the bathroom do need to be GFI protected.
I had differentiated clearly
Nope. Bathroom lighting is considered an outlet.
 
  #22  
Old 05-15-17, 08:03 PM
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Receptacles are outlets, but not every outlet is a receptacle.
 
  #23  
Old 05-15-17, 08:17 PM
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Hi Chandler,

Too funny! Actually, YES I did mean to write "Outlets" and not "receptacles". The former is a term in common usage, with the same meaning as receptacle. You don't need to believe me - you have Google. Even the NEC code uses both of these terms interchangeably - in addition to also using "receptacle outlets".

Goodnight, Chandler! I'm not interested in jousting windmills.
 
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